Effective Ways of Communicating Science to Common People
Due importance is not accorded by scientists to public outreach activities, probably due to their busy research and administrative schedule. However, even if they want to devote their time they cannot do it in a sustained manner because of “(over) specialization”. Creative science communication is hindered by alleged ‘egoist’ feeling that it is an act of “copying” and “over-simplification” making the purists cringe to the core. However, it must be borne in mind that all current science is combinatorial. It derives from a diverse set of disciplines and research that has already been done by generations. It’s a networked knowledge that needs to be effectively communicated to the masses by combining the disparate pieces of inspiration, knowledge, skill and talent that are accumulated over the lifetime. These need to be stitched together or recombined into new creations for easy understanding and consumption of the common people. Science communicators need to cross-pollinate to create and evolve new ideas.
Science communication to the common people needs an assortment of techniques that can appeal to the “interested” and “non-interested” participants as well. Both these constituents are an important segment, hence efforts should be made to make science communication a participatory event rather than a unidirectional flow of information. The participatory model should strive at creating an ambience of reflection and rumination, on the ideas that are floating around, so that the information that is being discussed can seep into the psyche of interested as well as un-interested participants. Hence, the effective communication of a scientific idea also rests on the shoulders of the participant, and not just on the communicator. This will induce the communicator to explore new, innovative and effective ways to reach the audience.
The new integrated social media platform can be harnessed since it provides an opportunity to effectively engage with a wide spectrum of common people comprising students, teachers, academicians, aspiring scientists and technologists, not just locally but globally. This approach will encourage wide participation and greater returns on time invested. It will also give quantifiable metrics on their impact.
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